Be Prepared for the Upcoming Hurricane Season
Hurricane season is approaching quickly, and although this happens every year, surprisingly, many people still don’t bother to take inventory of their homeowners’ policy to make sure it fully covers your property. Here are some basics that you should check before a storm strikes.
Remember that your regular homeowners’ policy does not automatically cover floods. It is estimated that of the 6 million people in Florida who have homeowners’ insurance, just over 4 million–more than half–do not have proper or full homeowners’ insurance coverage for flooding damage. According to one study, 9 out of 10 homeowners lack proper flood insurance. Amazingly, Florida actually has one of the lowest flood insurance rates nationally, costing about 20% below the average nationally.
It can take around 30 days for new flood insurance to go into effect, so don’t wait–many providers will refuse to write coverage when a storm looks like it is heading out way.
Additionally, don’t rely on flood insurance maps or whether you are “classified” as being in a flood zone. Flooding can happen anywhere, and it doesn’t take 6 feet of water to cause damage. Even a small, 1-2 inch layer of water into your home can cause damage.
Documenting Your Valuables
You should document the items in your home with a video, or close up pictures, where necessary. Remember that if you lose property in a storm, you could end up arguing with the insurance company over the replacement value. In major storms, where property could be completely blown away, you may have to prove that you actually owned property at all (think of valuable instruments, antique cars, paintings, or other smaller but valuable items that you will have to show an insurance company that you actually owned).
Things to Remember and Take Care of Now
Make sure to trim trees. Many policies have exclusions for branches that fall on roofs or cause other damage.
Many people have not altered their coverage maximums in years, even though they have made improvements to their property. Even if you can show that you upgraded the interior lighting, and re-did the floors, if your policy is too low to cover the cost of replacing these items, it won’t make a difference what you can prove you owned.
Make sure that any important documents are safe and sealed, and somewhere you can find them should you have to evacuate. This includes important homeowners’ insurance documents that you may need to contact your insurance company or make a claim if needed.
If there is damage to your property, make sure to document it with pictures and videos, and to contact your insurance company immediately to avoid missing insurance reporting deadlines. Remember that a lot of damage may not be visible–small water leaks, for example, may show as just dark shadows on walls or the ceiling.
Contact the West Palm Beach homeowners’ insurance attorneys at the Celeste Law Firm today for a consultation if you are having trouble when making claims for homeowners’ insurance benefits for any repair or damage on your property.